Ohio State gets back at it Friday after a week off following a 34-10 dismantling of Michigan State in the Shoe.
Regular season open weeks can be frustrating for fans and can sometimes derail a team's momentum, if if just temporarily, but as Ryan Day noted during his press availability yesterday, he appreciates the chance to take stock of the season-to-date and give players a chance to heal their bodies.
He expects the rest to entirely beneficial as the Buckeyes get set for a strange Friday night kick in Ryan Field against Pat Fitzgerald's Northwestern Wildcats.
Q. Coach Day, do you like the way the schedule sets up this year with the two bye weeks about two weeks apart? It’s an unusual schedule. Do you like the way it sets up or would you prefer maybe a more traditional schedule?
RYAN DAY: No, I think it gives us a chance to kind of regroup a little bit and kind of take some self-assessment of where we’re at during the season. Also heal up. So I think any time you can get a bye week, it’s great.
Q. Do you feel good about where your team is at health-wise, and what were you able to do during the bye week?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, a couple weeks to kind of heal up, and I think overall we are. We’ve played some depth this first six games, and so we’ve got a lot of guys out there, which is great, too, so we do have some depth at the positions. But like any team, six, seven weeks into the season, there are some different things, nagging injuries here and there, but overall we’ve been pretty healthy.
Q. You had said that you wanted to do some self-scouting during the bye week. What were your top-line takeaways from that?
RYAN DAY: I mean, nothing, just like you said, that just are glaringly evident. It’s just a lot of little things here and there on both sides of the ball, and when you play six games, you start to create some tendencies, you do different things, and so you just want to look to see first off personnel guys if you’re doing things the right way, and then secondly, schematically what are our tells, what are some things we need to clean up. And then as individuals, what are some things they need to get better at. So we gave all of our guys three different things they need to improve at so that we can say get better but get better at what, and there were some more targeted ideas on what we need to get better at.
Good on Day for embracing the time off despite Ohio State steamrolling through its first six games, catching the eye of most national pundits along the way.
Day's attitude toward the open week was likely enhanced by the physical nature of the win over Michigan State which saw guys like Thayer Munford, Damon Arnette, Justin Fields and Chase Young all get nicked up to varying degrees.
Recent history also says open weeks have been good for the Buckeyes.
Since Urban Meyer's arrival in 2012, Ohio State is a perfect 9-0 coming off open weeks during the regular season including a 2-0 mark in road contests. Going back even further, Ohio State has won 12 straight games following an open week within the regular season. The last loss came during the 2005 season as the Buckeyes dropped a 17-10 decision to No. 16 Penn State in Happy Valley.
The lone game following an open week in 2012 saw Ohio State go to Camp Randall and beat the Badgers 21-14 in overtime despite generating just 236 total yards while Montee Ball had 191 rushing yards on 39 carries.
Ohio State went 2-0 following open dates in 2013 including one on the road, a 60-35 win over Illinois in Champaign.
The 2014 national championship team also went 2-0 coming off bye weeks. The Buckeyes showed little rust putting 50 on Cincinnati and 56 on Rutgers, both in the Shoe.
Ohio State has won 12 straight regular season games following an open date with the last loss coming to No. 16 Penn State in 2005.
The dysfunctional 2015 squad jumped out to a 21-0 lead against Minnesota in a lackluster effort but still prevailed 28-14 with Cardale Jones under center as J.T. Barrett served a suspension after being cited for impaired driving.
Rutgers was again demolished in 2016 after a Buckeye open week, 58-0, as Ohio State cranked out 669 total yards. Rutgers completed three passes on the day but hey, they didn't commit a turnover.
One of the most memorable games coming off an open week, the 2017 Buckeyes trailed No. 2 Penn State 35-20 midway through the third quarter and 38-27 with 5:42 left in regulation before scoring two touchdowns over the final 4:20 to win 39-38.
J.T. Barrett played his best game in scarlet and gray connecting on 33-of-39 throws for 328 yards and four touchdowns with another 95 yards on the ground.
Last season, Ohio State did beat Nebraska coming off an open week but did so in unspectacular fashion. The Buckeye offense turned it over three times and gave up 450 yards but a 42-yard touchdown run from J.K. Dobbins with 4:52 left in the game gave Ohio State the breathing room it needed to capture a 36-31 win.
This Friday, it'll be up to Day and company to keep the momentum going. Performing as expected should yield an easy win and set up a showdown with No. 6 ranked Wisconsin the following Saturday in Ohio Stadium.